Stylish design; nimble handling; performance; interior quality
The Mazda3 is offered as either a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback. Both body styles can be paired with a choice of two different powertrains. For sedans, the i trim comes with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the s trim upgrades to a 156-horsepower, 2.3-liter four. Hatchbacks are only available with the 2.3L engine. The high-performance MazdaSpeed3 hatch gets a turbocharged, direct-injection version of the 2.3-liter, making 263 horsepower.
The i and s trims both offer a five-speed manual standard. The i trim gets a 4-speed automatic, while the s trim gets a five-speed automatic. The MazdaSpeed3 is only available with a six-speed manual.
Both the 2.0 and 2.3L engines feature variable valve timing and deliver strong performance with the manual transmission. Fuel economy is best with the base 2.0L-equipped models, achieving up to 24 mpg city, 32 highway.
Thanks to a very rigid body structure, a special bracketed front suspension mounting system and a rear multi-link design and stabilizer bars front and back, the Mazda3 has handling that's more crisp and communicative than that of other small cars.
The MazdaSpeed3 comes with a long list of additional features, making the most of the model's performance character. A limited-slip differential helps deliver the power through the front wheels, along with a sport suspension and thicker anti-sway bars, larger 18-inch wheels with summer performance tires, bigger brakes, a sport-tuned exhaust and special upholstery, appearance cues, and trim inside.
With either the sedan or hatchback body style, the Mazda3 has space for five, although adults will find the back seat quite short on space, especially in legroom. In front, the sport bucket seats are firm and supportive yet very comfortable, with the driver getting a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, and the rear bench is split 60/40, folding down to expanded cargo area that's especially useful in the hatchback.
Safety are extensive. Seat-mounted side airbags and roof-mounted, head-protecting airbags are included on all Mazda3 models, as are anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist. On Touring and Grand Touring models, electronic stability control is also standard.
Top options include remote engine start, Sirius Satellite Radio, a Bose premium audio system and a moonroof.
The Mazda3 received a number of changes in equipment and features halfway through the 2008 model year, and these continue into the 2009 model year. A new i Touring Value model was introduced, and the standard features list on the Grand Touring models was expanded to include a power driver's seat as well. Sirius Satellite Radio with an introductory subscription is now included with the navigation system, and the interiors of the s trim and MazdaSpeed3 models have been slightly revised.
Both of the i and s trims are among the most enjoyable small cars to drive, with gutsy engines, precise manual transmissions and the tight handling feel of more expensive sport sedans. The Mazda3 features taut handling with an interior that's a step above most other small cars with top-notch materials and build quality. And the MazdaSpeed3 model is in a higher performance category altogether.
Vehicle Price: 15,440.00
*Estimated payments are for informational purposes only and don't account for acquisition fees, destination charges, tax, title, and other fees and incentives or represent a financing offer or guarantee of credit from the seller.
Equipment that may affect values (standard equipment is pre-selected):
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